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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Jan. 23)

All News 09:15 January 23, 2016

Taekwondo for sale

Two politicians are making short work of taekwondo for their personal gains. The two are Reps. Hong Moon-jong and Moon Dae-sung, both from the ruling Saenuri Party. Their misbehavior is tarnishing the reputation of the sport on its home turf and may jeopardize its status as an Olympic sport.

Bad blood spilt again Wednesday when Moon, a gold medal-winning taekwondo star and also a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), filed a request to hold a protest rally in front of Hong's office in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, demanding he step down as chairman of Kukkiwon, the global headquarters of the Korean martial art.

At issue is, among other things, Hong's plan, now on hold, to allow one to leapfrog from the fifth to the highest ninth "dan" or degree through one test. This usually takes 28 years in due course. Hong promoted this special test for a fee of 2.5 million won but his plan was put on hold with the fee revoked. The special test was seen as part of his effort to tighten his control of the organization.

Moon, to press his demand for Hong to revoke the plan and resign, declared his intention not to seek re-election in the April general elections, saying that he is sick and tired of politics. Hong, a confidant of President Park Geun-hye, was elected to the post amid unsavory allegations in 2013. He also tried to take over the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) but was stopped in his tracks, with Choue Chung-won holding onto his WTF presidency.

Now, the irony is that Moon has reportedly accepted a suggestion by Saenuri Party Chairman Kim Moo-sung to run for office in Incheon, west of Seoul, reversing his earlier pledge not to run. Hong once served as a senior Saenuri party official and is close to Kim. He currently represents a constituency in Busan.

Moon is himself no stranger to controversy, one of which was triggered by his proven plagiarism in his doctoral thesis at the start of his parliamentary term four years ago, and he proved thick-skinned enough to weather the fallout.

If Moon falls quiet about Hong and runs in April, there will be suspicions that he raised the brouhaha over Hong for a political payoff. First, it remains to be seen whether he will hold an anti-Hong protest as promised. Still, it is only deplorable to see the Korean martial art in the hands of self-promoting opportunists such as Hong and Moon.

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